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Best Independent Publishers in 2024

Showing 37 indie publishers that match your search.

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

LA-based Rare Bird Books has a strong affinity for edgy, whip-smart titles on sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll: think candid sex worker memoirs and deep dives into the London music scene of the ‘70s. Besides nonfiction, Rare Bird widely publishes a number of genres over its various imprints. California Coldblood, for instance, presides over the press’s speculative fiction titles, while Barnacle Books takes care of crime fiction. As a whole, their titles are both progressive and compulsively readable, no matter if it’s PG-friendly or NSFW.

🔥 Hit title: Camgirl by Isa Mazzei

⭐️ Best known for: Memoir, Mysteries, Science Fiction & Fantasy

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Founded in 2002, Noemi Press operates out of Blacksburg, Virginia, where it publishes both new and established writers — especially women, queer people, and people of color. Their titles are often described as part something, part something else, and you can fill in the blanks to build all kinds of fascinating, extremely high-brow combos: say “autofiction” and “sequential critical engagement”, or “family gothic” and “queer historiography”. Even books that don’t have this genre mashup quality feel pieced together, in the best way, mixing forms and textures to produce writing that feels wholly new.

🔥 Hit title: Her 37th Year, An Index by Suzanne Scanlon

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Tin House’s legendary literary magazine may have shuttered its doors 2019, but their book publishing program is still going strong. Originally launched as an Bloomsbury imprint, Tin House Books spun off into an indie publisher in 2005. They release around 12 books a year often from first-time authors. Tin House Books publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and they have a penchant for lush, character-driven contemporary novels, playful essay collections, and memoirs that delve into complex relationships with uncompromising insight.

🔥 Hit title: Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco

⭐️ Best known for: Essay Collections, Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction

The playful, punk-adjacent Microcosm Publishing considers itself the “most colorful, authentic, and empowering publishing house” in Portland's vibrant indie publishing scene. It’s a bold claim, but one borne out by the press’s DIY mindset, its centering of marginalized creators, and its exclusive use of recycled printing paper. Microcosm emerged as a zine distributor run out of founder Joe Biel’s bedroom, and it’s hung onto that sense of grit even after decades of expansion. Their strongest titles tend to be no-nonsense handbooks full of actionable instructions.

🔥 Hit title: Making Stuff and Doing Things by Kyle Bravo (editor)

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

This Minneapolis-based press takes inspiration from its botanical namesake. Just as milkweed feeds the transformation of caterpillars into monarch butterflies, Milkweed Editions supports emerging and experimental writers, giving them a home for their work to flourish. Its catalogue is an exercise in artistic risk-taking: full of intricately textured novels, cerebral and raw memoirs, and some of the finest verse by young poets.

🔥 Hit title: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries . View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Brooklyn-based Akashic Books was founded by the post-hardcore bassist Johnny Temple in 1997. It still operates out of the borough’s trendy Old American Can Factory, putting out galleys in the same industrial complex where electronica acts jam and indie painters hang their canvases. But in the last decade, they’ve started selling books all over the country. Dedicated to “reverse-gentrification of the literary world,” they highlight marginalized and anti-establishment authors, giving them an outlet for work considered too niche (or too incendiary) for corporate publishing.

🔥 Hit title: A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes

⭐️ Best known for: Mysteries, Literary Fiction, Crime Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Forest Avenue Press focuses on literary fiction, occasionally dipping their toes into memoir as well. Regardless of genre, they aim to publish work animated by joy: not necessarily stories with happy endings, but work that shows off the author’s capacity for humor and freewheeling imagination. As a result, their catalogue abounds with oddball books, each with a broad palette of literary influences. An author-focused press with a relatively small stable of talent, Forest Avenue lavishes more time and money on marketing each title than your typical indie publisher.

🔥 Hit title: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction

Europa Editions' parent company, Edizione E/O, grew out of a failed venture by Italian couple Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzala : a bookstore where thinkers with opposing views could meet for peaceful dialogue. When the political discord proved too daunting for polite reading-room tête-à-têtes, the Ferris, now married, pivoted to publishing. Their American publishing house, Europa Editions, is one of the US’s top publishers of fiction in translation, and they’ve produced more than a few NYT bestsellers, including Elena Ferrante's celebrated Neapolitan Novels. (And yes, they've met the mysterious, pseudonymous author face to face.)

🔥 Hit title: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction and Fiction

Independent presses tend to focus on fiction and poetry, but Feral House breaks the mold. Look through their list of publishing topics, and you’ll see post-apocalyptic survival guides under Self-Reliance and gutsy exposés of government corruption under Realpolitik. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of small press that publishes highbrow short story collections or thoughtful, MFA-inflected novels. Their countercultural sensibility lends itself instead to bold nonfiction (or, occasionally, historical fiction) by unabashed firebrands.

🔥 Hit title: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, How-To Guides, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Manuscript Submission. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Named after the left-hand page, this left-leaning publisher has been furnishing reading material for prospective revolutionaries since 1970. No wonder Harper’s hailed it as “Anglo-America’s preeminent radical press.” They lean more literary theory than literary fiction, offering sharp, syllabus-ready books across the full slate of humanities and social science disciplines, from Anthropology to Race and Ethnicity. Though many of their writers belong to the professoriate, Verso Books isn’t a university press. Their nonfiction, though intellectually rigorous, tends to be snappier than your usual academic fare.

🔥 Hit title: Females: A Concern by Andrea Long Chu

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, History, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

This independent publisher emerged in the 1970s, out of second wave feminism’s heyday. Its first print runs were dedicated to foundational women’s studies texts, biographies, and rediscovered feminist literary classics like "The Yellow Wallpaper." These days, FP’s growing list speaks to a much more modern brand of feminism, sensitive to issues of race, sexuality, and gender identity. Since 2017, the press has been headed by Jamia Wilson, its youngest-ever director — and the first woman of color to serve at the organization’s helm. Under her leadership, the press puts out exciting, impeccably crafted books by diverse writers.

🔥 Hit title: Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, Essay Collections, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Short Fiction

Founded in 2014, this LA-based publisher is relatively young. But it’s already assembled a formidable stable of talent: rising star Esmé Weijun Wang shares shelf space with Booker, Pulitzer, and Philip K Dick Prize winners. Many of their titles are multicultural family dramas, full of complex relationships and pitch-perfect characterization. However, their catalogue ranges beyond literary fiction to embrace highbrow speculative fiction, collections of journalism, and even self-help books.

🔥 Hit title: The Border of Paradise by Esmé Weijun Wang

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

This indie publisher got its start because Ezra Pound didn’t believe in a certain Harvard undergrad’s future in poetry. James Laughlin, then a college sophomore, went to the legendary modernist for advice. And Pound, who had been critiquing his work all semester, urged him to give up writing and “do something useful” instead. Thus New Directions Publishing was born. Laughlin retained a love for verse, so the budding press’s first books were poetry anthologies and collections by the greats — including Pound. These days, New Directions boasts a rich collection of fiction and criticism as well, especially works in translation.

🔥 Hit title: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Quirk Books is best known for publishing Seth Grahame-Smith’s brilliant decision to mash up Regency romance and B-movie horror, a title that ultimately became an NYT bestseller — not to mention a Lily James-led film. True to its name, this Philly-based indie press injects a whole lot of whimsy into the literary world. Quirk’s publishing program is unabashedly reader-centric, aiming to produce “objects of delight and desire”. Its titles — from humorous essays on celebrity to LGBT-affirming picture books — are clever, irreverent, and eminently giftable.

🔥 Hit title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides, Humor, Science Fiction & Fantasy, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals, Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Short Fiction

This Manhattan-based press releases 90 books a year, making it relatively big for an indie publisher. It’s especially well-known among mystery connoisseurs for its Soho Crime imprint, which specializes in top-notch thrillers with a strong sense of place, a bit like traditional detective fiction crossed with travelogue. Whether it takes place in Denmark or Thailand, a Soho Crime title will set the scene so vividly you’ll feel you’re walking alongside the detective down those minutely rendered streets. Soho also publishes YA through Soho Teen and literary fiction through Soho Press proper.

🔥 Hit title: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura and Satoko Izumo (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Mysteries, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

What is an independent publisher?

An independent publisher is a publisher not affiliated with any big corporations or conglomerates — meaning they operate independently. Think of them as the small businesses of the publishing world: they’re like chic local boutiques compared to the Macy’s and Nordstroms of the Big 5. Indie presses also tend to be small presses, an industry term for publishers making less than $50 million annually.

Independent publishers vs. self-publishers

There’s plenty to ruminate on when it comes to the distinction between indie publishing and self-publishing, but independent publishers are quite different from self-publishers. In a nutshell, indie presses operate on a far smaller scale than the billion-dollar publishing juggernauts, but they still fall under the umbrella of traditional publishing.

Resources for submitting to independent publishers in 2024

Not all independent publishers take unagented submissions, but many of them do, allowing you to cut out the middleman and make your writerly dreams come true all on your own. 

Of course, to make this happen, you'll have to be your project's best advocate. That means writing the best book you can, of course, but you shouldn't stop there — you'll have to study your target press's submissions guidelines and let them guide your next move.

Will you need to craft a killer book proposal, or brush up on your querying technique? Either way, we've got you covered. To give you a push on your path to indie publisher stardom, we've compiled some resources for putting together the perfect submission.

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Reedsy | Editorial Assessment scientist | 2023-10

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